Sunday, January 10, 2010


I finished Last Night in Twisted River, reading 70 pages in October, a smattering in December and the back half of the 550+ pages in a three day reading marathon this week. It is a complicated novel, and I came so close to giving up, but thank goodness I kept reading. I am in awe of this novel, now that I understand what it is, and why it unfolds the way it does. It is not an easy read, but sometimes the best novels make you work for the payoff. It took me a lot of tears to finish this story, as it broke my heart in several places. Love and loss seem to strike a serious chord with me, and this story is steeped in both, spanning three generations and decades of US history, the vanishing logging trade, the artistry of cooking, the craft of writing, the serendipity of life and the comfort of love.

It's been a long time since the remembering the words in a story could make me cry days after I read them. I can't listen to After the Gold Rush without tearing up now. I don't want to go either. And I want an angel to rescue me too. I don't want love to always be about losing it, I don't want to be afraid or sad all the time.

I will remember this Irving novel for a very long time, and I rank it among his most honest and touching novels. It will resonate for a very long time.

And yes, of course there are loads of bears.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My Twisted Journey

I find myself entangled in Last Night in Twisted River two months after I started it, officially past half finished, picking up steam and in need of catching my breath. The story is massive, almost 600 pages, and dense, with sentences that go on for paragraphs. I forget how much a writer likes writing sentences. The story unfolds slowly, in bits and pieces, remembered in extraordinary detail, often distracting amounts of detail, by likable characters caught up in complicated lives. I'm trying not to notice or count the insane number of paranthesis, hyphens and italics on each page, and struggling to keep track of the timeline and lives intertwined in this story. I keep reading because I want to know what happens, the suspense is dragging on for generations, and because every now and then John Irving writes something so true or so meaningful or beautiful that I remember why I read him in the first place. I'm wishing I remembered all the details from all his previous novels, as I'm sure I'm missing references galore, and I can't resist looking for parallels between the lives of Danny Angel and John Irving. It's everything quirky and man-centric I would expect, and maybe it would have helped me connect if there were a consistent female character, as dozens of women pass through the men's lives. Much sex, not much love, though there is the love of father, son and grandson holding everything together.

And one more thing: this novel makes me yearn for good food, inspires me to cook something from here or there, to see how hot my oven can get, to add a little honey to my pizza dough. I'm going to gain a few more pounds before I am finished. And finish I shall.